While it is unfortunately very true that there is a level of controversy present in today’s theological studies, over what happens to the deceased between death and resurrection—a much higher debate takes place regarding what occurs to unrepentant, unrighteous sinners. Do these people experience a never-ending, ongoing eternal punishment? Or, do these people experience an obliteration from existence? Strong and firm disagreements between those who affirm some sort of ongoing eternal punishment, versus those who believe in annihilationism, have been present in Christian theology for the past century. These debates have been taken up by many people within the broad, contemporary Messianic movement—with more than a few not quite knowing what to believe.
This volume of Messianic Apologetics’ Confronting Issues series, Why Hell Must Be Eternal, necessarily takes up some of the uncomfortable discussion that has gone on in evangelical Christian theology regarding eternal punishment, and how it affects our contemporary Messianic faith community. Annihilationism is not a viable form of eternal punishment, as it constitutes the same basic belief of any atheist or agnostic, who thinks that after death he or she will enter into total nothingness. At the same time, there have undoubtedly been exaggerations and over-exaggerations of hyper-literal models of eternal punishment that exclusively focus on descriptions of it being fire and smoke, as opposed to outer darkness or banishment from God’s presence. How should today’s Messianic Believers approach the widespread, metaphorical view of eternal punishment, present in theological studies since the Protestant Reformation—but not often known to the normal layperson?
This volume should hopefully stimulate some critical thinking and evaluation, regarding the uncomfortable subject of eternal punishment—and above all motivate each and every one of us to see that none of our fellow human beings has to experience it!
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